The UK’s food system is failing, putting the health of the population, and of the planet, at risk.
The report of the Committee on Food, Poverty, Health and the Environment, published today, calls upon the Government to end years of inaction and ensure that a healthy, sustainable diet is accessible for everyone.
Peers recommend that we should start to measure how many people live with food insecurity, and analyse why and to understand the cost of a healthy diet and incorporate this into benefits calculations.
They say that the Government should act to curb excessive advertising and promotion of unhealthy foods by the food industry and step up pressure on the industry to reduce sugar, salt, unhealthy fats and calories in processed food, and introduce mandatory requirements where change has not happened.
They should ensure that food initiatives for disadvantaged children, such as Healthy Start and free school meals are properly funded, implemented and monitored and establish an independent body to oversee the implementation of a National Food Strategy and report annually to Parliament on progress.
They also recommend that we should use the opportunity of the Agriculture Bill to encourage production and consumption of healthier food and ensure that it delivers the public environmental goods it is designed to.
The Chair of the Committee, Lord Krebs said:
“Problems of diet and ill-health have been staring us in the face for decades, but successive Governments have done precious little about it. While this affects everyone, people in poverty either can’t afford enough to eat or have unhealthy diets.
“Many of Britain’s poorest families have little or no choice. They either go without food or buy unhealthy food because that’s what they can afford and get hold of.
“The Government knows about the problem. It’s time to stop the dither and delay, endless talking and consultation, and get on with it.”